10 Restaurant Marketing Ideas for January

After the holiday hustle and bustle, January is generally a slow month for most businesses – especially restaurants. However, there are some steps you can take to keep your restaurant in black this January. These 10 restaurant marketing ideas will help increase sales and get customers in the door.

1. Offer a Special Month-Long Promotion.

This promotion is totally up to you. Perhaps you offer a special menu item only available in January or buy-one-get-one (BOGO) entrees. Other popular promotions could be kids eat free (if you cater to families), a free appetizer, or half-price dessert.

Maybe your month-long promotion has less to do with pricing and more to do with items that have the whole month of January dedicated to them. Did you know that January was a hot tea month? January is also the oatmeal month, national slow cooking month, national soup month, and national Sunday supper month. Are there are promotions you could offer around these categories for January?

There are also a couple of foodie weeks in January that could apply to your restaurant. For example, the second week of January is National Pizza Week. The third week of January is National Fresh-Squeezed Juice Week. The last week of the month is Meat Week.

If your restaurant is known for a promotion that has performed particularly well in the past, January might be the time to roll it back out. Whatever the offer is, just make sure it is enticing to your customers.

2. “Healthify” Your Menu

For many people, January is all about New Year Resolutions. That means people who are trying to lose weight or eat better want healthy menu options. Whether you lighten up some of your classics, or simply offer a healthy promo menu for the month, promoting healthier options around this time of year is certain to attract more customers.

This may also be a good time to roll out the nutrition information for your menu if you haven’t done so already. While that task may seem a bit daunting, there are plenty of tools online that can help you come up with a good estimate for how many calories your menu items contain.

3. Celebrate Fun & Obscure Holidays

There are a lot of obscure holidays in January that a restaurant could celebrate. Running special promotions on one or two of these days in January could help bring in more business. A few examples include:

  • January 4th – National Spaghetti Day
    • Do you serve spaghetti? Could you serve spaghetti easily enough? Celebrate national spaghetti day! Who doesn’t love spaghetti?
  • January 6th – Bean Day
    • Some restaurants may struggle a bit with finding bean-filled menu items, but if you’re known for your chili, this could be a promotion for your restaurant.
  • January 10th – Bittersweet Chocolate Day
    • Bake up some chocolate chip cookies and make them free (or heavily discounted) with the purchase of an entrée. Who doesn’t love chocolate chip cookies?
  • January 14th – National Dress Up Your Pet Day
    • Okay, while this one isn’t restaurant-related, I had to include it. Maybe offer a discount to anyone who brings a picture of their pet in costume.
  • January 15th – National Bagel Day
    • This one is excellent for breakfast restaurants. Those who serve bagel sandwiches already are especially primed to celebrate this holiday.
  • January 16th – International Hot and Spicy Food Day
    • Some of these other days may not work at all for international cuisines, but this day is just for you! Cook up your favorite spicy dishes and serve them up on this special holiday.
  • January 17th – National Get to Know Your Customers Day
    • Unlike most of the other ideas I’ve listed here, this one is not related to a specific dish or food. Instead, prioritize your customers. Get to know them, and treat them well.
  • January 19th – National Popcorn Day
    • This one would definitely be trickier if you don’t already serve popcorn. However, there are some interesting popcorn-related recipes if you really want to jump in on this national day celebration.
  • January 20th – National Cheese Lover Day
    • Everyone loves cheese. This day is perfect for putting your cheesiest dishes in front of your customers.
  • January 22nd – National Blonde Brownie Day
    • If you haven’t had a blonde brownie – try one. And while you’re at it, you might cook up a tray to promote on national blonde brownie day.
  • January 23rd – National Pie Day
    • There are a lot of “pie days” but this is listed as a possibility too, so if your restaurant is known for having delicious pie, you might consider adding this to your list.
  • January 24th – National Peanut Butter Day
    • Peanut butter – so versatile, so delicious. Create a peanut butter dessert to promote, or even offer free peanut butter and jelly sandwiches to the kids who visit your restaurant on this day in January.
  • January 27th – Chocolate Cake Day
    • Another dessert day! Chocolate cake is a celebrated dessert. And if you are also trying to promote healthier options, there are a lot of recipes for zucchini chocolate cake that you could consider serving up to lighten up this one.
  • January 29th – National Corn Chip Day
    • Walking tacos, corn chips with chili, or some other corn chip dish would all be great to serve to celebrate this day.

These are just a few I found in an internet search. Depending on the source, you may find more or variations on these. You might even consider making up your own day to celebrate. Regardless of the occasion, your customers will love having something fun to celebrate.

4. Offer Takeout Specials

No one wants to go out in the cold weather for anything – so don’t make them. January is a great month to ramp up your delivery and takeout offerings. If you partner with a third-party service to offer delivery to your customers, run a couple of promotions through the service that will help them promote your business to customers who are looking for a deal. This type of promotion may also work if you run your own delivery service, but may not be as effective if you do not already have a group of regular customers.

Some popular takeout specials include mid-week special discounts, buy one get one free deal or a free appetizer or dessert with a certain amount purchased.

You could also create family-sized dinners for delivery or carry-out. Working parents will appreciate the ease and convenience of this option for getting a hot meal on the table.

4. Help the Community

This is similar to some of the fun holidays I mentioned earlier but focuses on a specific one with a more altruistic motive. January is National Blood Donor Month. You can run a month-long charity event for the Red Cross. Consider giving 50% off a meal when someone shows that they donated. You might be able to have a blood drive in your parking lot if you organize it in advance.

If other restaurants in your community do this one already, you could also run a promotion that helps with another charity of your choosing.

5. Hire a Local Musician

Depending on the layout and size of your restaurant, this may not be feasible. However, if you can make it work, it is certainly worth a shot. People love live music, and having entertainment and dinner all at one location in the colder weather will be appreciated. Additionally, the musician you choose will likely have at least a few people who come to your restaurant primarily to see him or her play. This could potentially mean introducing your restaurant and your food to a new audience, which is never a bad thing.

If you don’t quite have room for a musician, you might also consider letting local artists showcase their work on your walls instead. While this may not draw in as many people on a particular night, it can help improve your reputation in the community as a supporter of the arts, and the local artists will likely promote your restaurant to their fans.

6. Host Cooking Classes

Brand activation events for restaurants are growing in popularity. As more people are learning to cook and cooking at home instead of eating out as often, cooking classes are gaining in popularity. If you do not already offer cooking lessons, you might consider starting them. There are many formats to choose from including cooking demonstrations or hands-on classes. You can choose to make items from your menu, or completely different items. Perhaps you focus on healthy options in January for those New Year resolutions, but then switch to more traditional foods later in the year. Depending on the popularity, this could end up being a healthy additional revenue stream for your restaurant.

7. Create a Tasting Night

Many people love dinners that include wine or beer pairings. If you are not a sommelier yourself, you could also consider partnering with a local brewery or winery to provide the alcohol. Sell tickets to the event in advance, and show off what your restaurant has to offer.

If you’d rather be a bit more creative with the menu, you could also consider a themed dinner night. Build the theme around the season, a certain type of food, or a specific ingredient. People love trying new things, and tasting menus are often a time when chefs really get to be creative and showcase their skills.

8. Host a Cook-off

Again, this one will likely depend on the space you have available. But if you are blessed with a lot of space, you might consider having local chefs compete in a cook-off competition. Sell VIP tickets and let those folks assist with the judging. Not only can this drive awareness (and sales) for your restaurant, but it also develops ties within the community.

If your space is not large enough to feasibly hold something like this, you might also consider finding another one that is. Even if attendees don’t get to see your space, you could still offer appetizers before the competition from your restaurant to draw interest. You could also promote a special dinner before the event, or after, depending on the time of day.

An event like this is a fun way to engage the community, provide entertainment, and show off your skills. Even though it is also an opportunity for your competitors to do the same, the positives far outweigh the negatives.

9. Launch that Thing You’ve Been Meaning to Launch but Haven’t

Your promotion during a slow month like January doesn’t have to be a brand-new innovative thing. Maybe you’ve been meaning to start a loyalty program or a birthday rewards program for some time, but just haven’t gotten around to it. January is an excellent time to take a look at plans you’ve already considered and put those into place.

There are several loyalty programs out there including those that connect to your point-of-sale system and track everything electronically to the old-but-effective punch card. Birthday rewards are a bit more complex and are typically awarded on an honor system, but even so – you can still bring in new customers (or bring back old customers) by starting a birthday promotion.

If you’ve been meaning to start an email program or a newsletter, January can be a great time for that, as well. Putting some additional time and energy into your marketing efforts can serve you well, not just in January, but all year long. You can reach out to a direct-response restaurant marketing agency like our sister company, Promotable Media, to help with efforts such as these.

Final Thought

Once you’ve decided on your special promotions for January, you’ll need to market your special event. Obviously, you will want to rely on the channels you have already discovered to work well in your community and for your customers. You might also consider trying some new channels. Be sure to have a system for tracking every channel so that you can measure the success and attribute the ROI correctly. As you continue testing, you’ll certainly find a marketing mix that is effective for your restaurant.

Hopefully, by incorporating one or two of these ideas for your restaurant this January, you can prevent a slow month and kick your year off right.

The Greatest Restaurant Grand Opening Ever

If you are getting ready to open up your new restaurant, you might think the hard part is over. You’ve considered the location. You have nailed down your concept. You have financed it, after weeks and weeks of applications, letters, meetings, and presentation of your ideas.

You have sent the menu to the graphic designers and they have sent back a menu that would make Gordon Ramsay hungry. The staff has been hired, from the host all the way to the chef.

You are ready, right? Not so.

This is not meant to discourage you or prevent you from feeling the well-deserved joy that you will experience as the doors open and customers with empty stomachs come by.

This is meant to make sure that you cross that finish line like a true champion-that is, by hosting a grand opening that will leave a positive impression on the minds of your customers and keep them coming back week after week.

Stay with us as we discuss various ways to start your business with a bang and keep it booming.

The Basic Steps

At long last, it is time to throw a fun party because it’s true: The really tough stuff is done. So, what are the basics of throwing a memorable grand opening? Let’s take a look.

1. Figure Out the Sort of Event You Want, And A Budget for It

When you think about all that has gone into starting this business up to this point, it can be extremely tempting to handle the opening of your establishment as just another day; a relatively minor thing.

However, having a well-mapped out restaurant grand opening is a huge part of your overall restaurant marketing strategy. The key to opening a restaurant with a bang is relatively easy; you are going to need to know how to get people in the door, and throwing a great party is a way to make it all happen.

However, this does not mean you have to go crazy and spend heaps of money as a way of holding a super grand opening. It is better overall that you do not do this, as there are going to be lots of other expenses that come your way once the business gets up and running.

There are lots of ways to get a restaurant grand opening going. You can actually roll out a “red carpet” to make guests feel like VIPs. You can set up a buffet of samples and then tempt customers with a special offer, like buying an entree and receiving a percentage off the second one.

You can also offer some refreshments or feature live music. You might also print up some coupons in the form of fliers that guests can use on a future visit.

Make yourself a comprehensive list of all the expenses needed for your opening and be sure the total cost is budget-friendly. Once you have thought about and priced fliers, music, decor, food and any giveaways or promo products, you can see if you need to modify your budget or celebration in any way, whether you are under budget or need to take it down a notch.

having a well-mapped out restaurant grand opening is a huge part of your overall restaurant marketing strategy.

2. Allow Ample Time for Yourself

Give yourself plenty of time to plan. A month to three months will be sufficient. You may wish to print up fliers, or invitations, depending on the type of establishment you are opening. You will need time to mail the invites/fliers to the local area, or at least time to hang them in public areas where everyone can see them.

Delegate tasks to your staff members, or the restaurant PR firm so that duties and deadlines are met and filled. Be sure that you keep track of everything you do, and how much money you spend. Use Excel spreadsheets or checklists so that nothing is overlooked. And be sure that you check in with all of your help so that everybody’s on the same page.

You may even consider doing a dry run. You might start doing business before the grand opening takes place so your employees know what to do, are well trained, and any little bugaboos or issues can be worked out ahead of time.

3. Know Your Target Audience

The art of launching a restaurant has many facets, and one of them is knowing the demographics of people you would most like to reach. Your restaurant’s grand opening needs to draw in your customer base, but also the restaurant supply companies you are working with as well as the local media. It is a chance for you to show off your new restaurant and enter your community with a bang.

Let the local media know that you are new in town. This is a great way to get some publicity, before and after the grand opening takes place. About three weeks before your grand opening is scheduled, contact your local media by phone. You can also mail out a press release if you like. (We will discuss shortly how to do well when using a press release).

If you can, ask a local celebrity like a popular radio host or the mayor to come in for a meal and drink, and also give him or her the honor of cutting the ribbon if you plan to do such a ceremony. Be sure that you also inform the media as well. This can result in photos being sent to the local newspaper or a social media site, along with a column about your new eatery.

Preparing for the media is just as important as planning your grand opening. Be sure that you have that press kit available-and this is not nearly as complicated as it sounds. You can simply pick up some pocket folders and include your business card, a copy of the menu and some questions and answers about your restaurant, and some other helpful facts about your business.

The art of launching a restaurant has many facets

4. Be Sure the Event Is Restaurant-Friendly

For a restaurant, you will want to do things like give away free samples of the food you are offering, as well as have menu copies available so customers always know what great meals you offer.

You might have a staff member offer to show guests around if you have varying areas of the restaurants. For instance, if you cater to families, show off the banquet rooms or areas designed for groups with little kids or babies.

If you are running an upscale establishment, show off your intimate table settings and bar areas. Your goal is to sell your establishment as the place your target demographic would like to be when it’s time to go out to eat.

5. Make Sure Your Expectations are Realistic

Remember, things don’t happen overnight. Your grand opening will be a great way to get your restaurant off on the right foot. But restaurant marketing must be a top priority as your business grows and expands.

Some great ways to keep the word going about your great eatery include:

  • Fun giveaways, like magnets with your phone number and a photo of your signature dish
  • Keychains (perhaps shaped like a food item you offer) or can koozies customers can use to advertise for you
  • Email newsletters or loyalty programs that keep customers coming back for good deals and specials
  • Praising and showing off your hardworking staff on social media
  • Asking grand opening attendees to tell a friend or family member about your place

Restaurant marketing must be a top priority as your business grows and expands.

Regarding Press Releases

Okay, so you have sent out some press releases to your local papers, magazines, Pennysaver, and other media outlets, like radio or television. But there have been no callbacks! What is going wrong? What can somebody do to increase their chances of being published?

First, do not assume that you have completely missed the boat on this one if you haven’t heard back from the people and outlets you have contacted. There have been stories published in some major newspapers and magazines long after the press releases have been sent in. However, we sometimes don’t have that much time to wait. Try again, revising your submission in such a way that appeals to the readers of the publication you seek to advertise in.

When you send out a press release, consider who you are sending it to, and how newsworthy it is. The editors of your local paper have to publish things that appeal to their readers. Therefore, you want to make sure your press release appeals to the people in your local area. Be sure you read and revise your press release over before sending it so that it conveys interest to the editors of your local publications.

Do your best, and perhaps have your PR specialist go over it. They can help you be unique and appealing with the way your release is presented. Don’t use buzz words or try to sound like something you’re not; most editors usually edit the release so that it fits the target audience. Make your headline attention-grabbing so that the editor stays hooked and doesn’t simply put your release at the bottom of the pile.

Make your release sound more like news than anything. Promotion is what editors find most annoying; your goal is to make your release sound like useful info, entertainment, or relevant news.

Remember, keep on keeping on. One publication may want nothing to do with your establishment, but another one will take joy in publishing your story. Editors are always seeking some news. Just keep it short, sweet and to the point while still telling why your restaurant is important and valuable to the community.

Make your release sound more like news than anything. Promotion is what editors find most annoying.

Generate Some Hype

One important aspect of any restaurant start-up event is getting people ready for your establishment. Get them amped and excited to come down and give it a try!

In this portion, we are going to talk about how you can use some marketing strategies to get the word out and get people excited about your restaurant.

  • Keep an eye on your presence when it comes to social media. Social media is a huge deal in today’s world. Sure, you can slip some menus under the door and mail out some coupons, but that’s not enough. Restaurants that have a strong social media presence tend to do well. Start up a Facebook page before you open that shows off your planned Grand Opening festivities, menu, and photos of meals you plan on serving. You can even use your Facebook page as a place to share savings opportunities, promote news and let people know your hours. You can also use this as a place to promote the positive press your company gets!
  • Promote visual content with Instagram. Show off the front of your establishment so people will know what to look for when they come looking for it. If you are a steakhouse, upload photos of the meat cooking on the grill or the fields from which your beef grazes. If you specialize in family dining, upload photos of families who happily celebrated birthdays or special events at your establishments, thanking them for their business. Make hashtags fun again-you can use old favorites like #TBT or create some of your own. Photos of food, employees working hard and more will appeal to customers.
  • Keep Your Menu Easy to Navigate & Functional. Do not make it hard for users to locate your menu. Publish one that is easy to read, accurate, and current. Be sure you include what dishes are good for those with dietary restrictions: gluten free, vegan/vegetarian, diabetics. Customers today NEED to access menus online, or they will take their business elsewhere.

Get People Inside

The whole town will not be able to make it to your grand opening, unfortunately. So, what can you do to get people in the door once they have time to come down?

This section ties in with our previous discussion of generating some hype. This portion is all about enticing the customers into your establishment.

  • Invest in Photography. Photos are what your clientele sees before they even set foot in your restaurant. Your website should feature top-notch photos of your food, settings, and bar area. Try to hire a food photographer if you can, and, combined with your fun Instagram photos, put them all over social media and in your fliers/commercials to get people excited about what you sell.
  • Have Regular Events. This is dependent upon your restaurant. You might bring in live music, have a wine tasting event where you collaborate with a local winery, or bring in a face painter or balloon artist for families with kids. You can even host events that correlate with big movie releases or concerts and invite people to dress up as their favorite character or wear a band t-shirt to get a percentage off their bill.
  • Be the Hangout Spot. Is there a major sports event coming up? Be sure you can broadcast it and offer drink and appetizer specials in honor of the occasion. A lot of people like to go out and share the joy of sports with friends and they don’t have to be in charge of cleanup. Large groups of people will eat, drink and linger while they watch the event for a few hours.

Encourage Repeat Business

Great food and amazing service from your staff are the key drivers in making sure your customers keep coming back. But what are some other methods you can use once your grand opening is over?

  • Keep the Menu Fresh. Fresh foods are loved by diners everywhere, but for this scenario, we mean keeping it changing. Restaurants always offer daily specials, and this makes the experience exciting for customers. You might even have the chef make up some samples and distribute them to diners, imploring them to try. You can then let them know it will be served next week, so be sure to stop by again. Ask your chefs what their specialty is. If your chef perfectly replicates his Italian grandmother’s lasagna, for instance, make sure it appears as a special one of the nights and you advertise on social media.
  • Have a reward system in place. Everyone and we mean everyone, loves a good deal. Giving away a free item once in a while is a good way to bring diners back. Families and couples alike always look for ways to save money. Cards that can be stamped toward a free meal or appetizer are surefire winners. Email lists are a great and unobtrusive way to offer customers deals and get them coming back for more. Send these out before special days like Super Bowl Sunday or Mother’s Day so that they can plan to come to your restaurant and celebrate. You might offer a free dessert or 50% off the purchase of a second meal on these special occasions.

Summing It Up

Keeping your restaurant at the forefront of everybody’s mind is going to be tough, but you can absolutely do it. Plan ahead, budget accordingly, and of course, have confidence in your staff, food, and ability to provide excellent service. Your community will be enjoying your eatery for decades!

Longitude is a hospitality branding and concept development agency. For questions, please reach out to Jeremy Wells at jeremy@longitudebranding.com.

Location Isn’t Everything – 7 Ways Your Restaurant Can Still Thrive Despite a Bad Location

If you are planning to run a food-related business, you will almost always hear about how crucial location is. Many restaurateurs say that if you cannot open at the right location, you might as well not open at all.

Unfortunately, the perfect location may not be attainable for you. Space might already be occupied. The rent might be too steep. The neighborhood may already be too saturated by competitors. Or worse yet, you may find yourself in a bad location as you read this.

So, what are you going to do? Are you going to let this stop you? Should you go for it? Or just give up and blame it on your location?

Yes, there are times that a bad location can kill your restaurant. However, there are times when you can overcome this shortcoming. In fact, given the right strategy, you can use a bad location to your advantage.

What Is Considered as A Bad Location for A Restaurant?

Any location can be a good location for a food business. Why? Because people need to eat. And, there are people everywhere. However, to make a restaurant work, you need enough people to eat at your restaurant so that you can cover your expenses and hopefully make a profit.

Here are some reasons that a location could be considered “bad.”

Population & Neighborhood Type

When there are simply not enough people in the neighborhood, that may not be a good location for you to open a restaurant. For example, if the available space is in a residential area, that could potentially be a bad place for a restaurant.

Your lunch service is probably going to be non-existent because people are either in school or at work. You may still generate some profit if people choose your place at dinnertime, but you have to attract a lot of these people in order for your restaurant to survive.

Accessibility & Parking

Poor accessibility is another setback for a restaurant location. If the building where you plan to open does not offer any parking space, you will definitely turn off a lot of potential customers. For rooftop restaurants, a building with no elevator is not something you’d want to consider.

Market Profile & Demographic

Even if the area where you plan to open sees a lot of foot traffic, if your theme doesn’t suit the market’s needs, that is still a bad location. For example, if you are planning on opening a fine-dining restaurant and are offered a space near a university, you will probably not be seeing a lot of patrons.

Dispelling the Myth About Location Being Everything

One thing that you have to remember though is that location is just one of three major things to consider when opening a restaurant. Some great establishment has been known to thrive despite being situated in some hidden nook.

How did they become successful? They focused on the other two factors: food and service. If you have no other choice but to get a space that is not the most ideal for your type of food establishment, you need to make sure that your food is excellent and the service that you offer is impeccable.

A good example of a restaurateur who has succeeded despite location challenges is Joseph Gidman, owner of Cafe Cusco and Van Gogh’s Eeterie.

Both of his restaurants are located in a part of town that has battled perceptions of being dangerous, run down, and depressed. Yet, his two restaurants have been experiencing overwhelming success because he decided to not use his “bad location” as an excuse.

I sat down with Joseph to ask him a few questions about what he attributes his success to, and here is an excerpt from that interview:

“When it opened it was a terrible location because the area felt dangerous and run-down. There was a perceived danger because it was a low-income area.” But he didn’t let the negative stigma bother him, and decided to take a different approach.

“We basically made a point to always, always, always, accentuate the positives. We knew there were negative thoughts and views, but we ignored the negative and only focused on the positive aspects of the location.”

Another aspect that he attributed his success to is the fact that his restaurants were “so unique and different. There wasn’t another place or option to get that style of food.”

He acknowledged, “sometimes the location is the factor, but,” he says, “sometimes you need to look around you. Sometimes people stay in their doors and think it’s the area and not them.”

Joseph also suggested that if other restaurants in the area are succeeding, then it may not be a location, it may be you. “People have to be open to acknowledging what they are doing is failing and change their mode of operation.” Yet, the bottom line, Joseph says, is that “a bad business is going to fail no matter where it is – no matter if it’s a good location or bad location.”

This is just one example of a restaurant who didn’t let a “bad location” stop them from experiencing success, and I’m sure there are many, many more. But if your restaurant is struggling and you think your location is the big reason, here are some ideas that could help.

1. Fine-Tune Your Restaurant’s Unique Selling Point (USP)

What makes your restaurant concept unique?

What sets you apart from the other establishments that are already in the neighborhood? You need to focus on this instead of dwelling about the site where your restaurant will be situated.

Take time to sit down and pretend that you are a customer. Think of all the reasons why that customer will choose your establishment over another. One of the first things that you need to consider is a special service that you can offer your clientele.

Can you offer valet parking if the location has issues with parking space? Do you want to have a “money back” offer should the customer not be fully satisfied with the quality of your food?

How about your food? What makes it special? Will your restaurant offer the best wine selection in the area? Will you be using special ingredients? Some restaurants stand out because they use ingredients that have been specially imported from certain locations.

For example, some restaurants import real Kobe beef from Japan. This is a huge pull for patrons who are interested in trying this type of meat.

Don’t forget about the ambiance. Some patrons come to a food place simply so they could take pictures of the interesting interior.

Is it great for an intimate dining experience or will you be catering to large groups? Will there be unique items on display? Is there a theme? Consider these for your USP and lean into it.

Once you have your USP in place, you can use it to craft your marketing plan. Remember, your unique selling point needs to be “unique”. Additionally, you need to be able to back this up.

If you promise to use the freshest, imported ingredients, you need to really use the freshest imported ingredients in your dishes. Otherwise, your patrons will not make the effort of visiting you in your not-so-ideal location.

2. Serve Great Food and Provide Amazing Service

Since your business is about food, your success will actually hinge on your food. You can be situated in the middle of a high foot traffic location with great visibility but if your food is not good, you will still fail.

Know that if people discover how amazing your food is, they will make the time and effort to visit your restaurant no matter where you are.

Additionally, being unique can only take you so far. Serving something that patrons haven’t tried before will be enough to attract first-time customers. However, it is the quality of your food that will make them come back.

Instead of putting all your money in rent, why not invest in hiring great cooks?

Invest in better ingredients. Hire knowledgeable servers.

By providing your customers with the best dining experience, they will no longer remember the inconvenience of getting to your establishment. You can be situated at the top of a building with no elevator and you will still have patrons lining up to get in.

Work on creating a signature dish that is not offered by any other restaurants nearby. Have your servers learn the names of your patrons.
Tell them to go the extra mile in giving the customers what they need. These are the thing that will have customers coming back no matter how bad your restaurant’s location is.

3. Invest in Effective Marketing

Even restaurants that are situated in great locations still need to employ great restaurant marketing strategies because there are so many other food establishments around. If you have a bad location, you need to work harder to get the word out about your food establishment.

Again, instead of forcing yourself to pay exorbitant rent, use the rent money you’d save to aggressively “sell” your restaurant.

Luckily, you don’t have to work too hard or spend too much on marketing forever. You can ease up on marketing once the customers discover your establishment.

Start with marketing on a grass-roots level. Target the people who are already in the vicinity of your restaurant. Distribute fliers and put up posters within a few miles of your area.

You can even take help from a restaurant marketing agency. Will cost you some money but it works. They will be able to give some good restaurant tips, that will help you in the long run. Also, you will get to know about restaurant technology and different restaurant trends.

If your restaurant will be situated in a hidden location, you need to make your signage really very visible. Creative signages that attract attention will serve you well.

Work on incorporating your specials, promos, and discounts to convince anybody who would see it give your joint a try. You don’t have to limit yourself to static signages.

Invest in eye-catching paper bags and, if you are going to offer food delivery, invest in signages for your delivery vehicles.

Don’t forget to invest in online marketing. In fact, this could be the most important aspect of your marketing campaign. Establish a good social media presence. Post pictures of your dishes, your restaurant’s interiors, and your customers on Facebook and Instagram.

Encourage your customers to post reviews about your establishment. List your joint on Yelp and Zomato. Pay for a good website. You can post promo coupons and tie this site with your loyalty programs.

4. Consider Offering Delivery Options

If you are going to be situated at an out-of-the-way location, it is a must to give your patrons another way for them to get to your food. If they cannot come to you, bring the food to them.

This is why it is important for your restaurant to have a website. This way, your customers can opt to get their food delivered by ordering online. You can also have a phone line installed so that customers can phone in their orders.

There are now so many delivery services offered that you don’t even have to buy your own delivery vehicles. But if you do decide to invest in that, make it work doubly hard for you by equipping it with good signage.

Consider also offering delivery guarantees and other promos that will encourage more customers to keep on buying food from your establishment.

You can offer free side-dishes if they reach a certain amount per order. Or you can give them discounts if the food doesn’t reach them in a timely manner.

5. Establish A Loyalty Program That Is Worth the Customer’s While

Having a loyalty program will give your patrons extra reasons to keep coming back to your establishment. Of course, you have to first give the customers a reason to come back besides the chance to get free meals.

Once people know that you provide great food and good service, you will be able to entice them to join your loyalty program.

Make the offers worth the customer’s time and effort. You can offer free meals for a certain number of visits. You can also offer special dishes only to the people who are members of the program.

This also cultivates a sense of exclusivity. When people see other patron’s getting served special dishes, they’d be compelled to join your program.

How do you do it? You can have an application made where your patrons can create an account and sign up for your loyalty program. This is probably the most effective way to enforce a loyalty program as it eliminates the need for a customer to bring physical cards.

Additionally, since people are always on their phones, you can easily remind them about your promos. You can also go the traditional punch card route and give your customers a physical card which they have to show every time they dine at your establishment.

You can offer free meals or desserts for a certain number of ‘punches”. There are also automatic reward systems that you can explore. Although this may have an additional cost.

6. Collaborate with Other Businesses in Your Area

Developing ties with other businesses in your area is a good idea if you want to beat the competition and overcome the barriers posed by your bad location.

For example, you can provide food for a late screening at a nearby cinema. You can also cater to special events at nearby schools or libraries.

This is a good way for people to discover your restaurant. While there, you can distribute flyers and promo pamphlets that can encourage your potential customers to give your joint a try.

7. Know Your Market by Doing Extensive Research

Before committing to a location, find out why the space is available. Inquire about what happened to the other business that closed up. Learning from the failures of others can help you avoid doing the same thing.

Find out what cuisine people enjoy in that area. Make sure that your menu corresponds to that. For example, if you plan on opening near a school, make sure that your food and price point suit the taste and budget of your possible patrons.

If you find out that the lunch crowd is going to be your meal ticket, adjust your food lineup and bolster the number of your servers during that time.

Determine what type of food is already being served in your area. This will help you identify what will make your establishment stand out. If there are already two or three vegan restaurants in your neighborhood, what can you do to make your food stand out?


While having a good location is ideal, it is not very easy to come by. This does not mean that it is the end of the line for your restaurant dream.

There are so many things that you can do in order to overcome this shortcoming.

Remember to focus on your food and service. Give your customers enough reasons to seek you out no matter where you are.

Restaurant Technologies That Build Brand Loyalty

Some of the most popular technologies that build brand loyalty may surprise you. After all, you likely already know about some of the more popular ones like mobile apps or email coupons.

But stay with us throughout this informative article to find ways that will enhance your brand and keep your customers coming back for more.

Restaurant Website Improvements

You might shake your head at how obvious this one is, but don’t underestimate the power of websites when you are building your brand. A well-designed, easy to read and mobile optimized website is going to be a huge win for your customers. It can absolutely make or break a business.

don’t underestimate the power of websites when you are building your brand.

One survey by Deloitte titled The Restaurant of the Future: Creating the Next Generation Customer Experience indicated that 85% of customers took a look at restaurant’s menu online as they were deciding whether or not to visit for the first time. The ones who do return are likely to spend more money at your establishment, also.

The critical component here is to make sure that your online menu scales to fit smartphones and works well on mobile browsers. Do not include any tabs or drop-down menus, as these tend to obscure text on your page. Use neutral colors that are easy to read.

Customers also really care about ingredients and what’s in what you are making. Do your best to list what each and every dish entail and denote if it is inclusive for a dinner with a dietary need: gluten free, wheat free, vegan/vegetarian to name a few.

Restaurant Mobile Apps

You can use these technologies for a wide variety of promotions and deals that will entice customers, such as menu viewing, food order placement, and even delivery.

The same survey we mentioned earlier showed that a great majority of those who responded-70%, in fact, looked for apps that delivered offers that were personalized.

Nearly half of diners in the USA enjoyed using on-demand food delivery that they access through the use of an app.

Customer loyalty programs, reviews, and other tools can also be performed through the use of an app. Most of the time, these apps are found in really huge restaurant chains, but it may behoove you to seek out a developer who may be able to create an app if your establishment has enough business, or is a regional chain, for example.

Using an app makes it way easier to attract new customers, too. After all, many people like to see what you offer first before they step inside. Be sure that if you do develop an app, you keep it clean and uncluttered.

Reward the customer when they open the app with a discount or free item once a dollar amount is reached. Engagement options are virtually limitless with mobile apps.

Restaurant Social Media

Here is a huge opportunity to connect with your customers using a method they already know about. The chances for you to interact with your clientele are numerous, and there are a few different and great ideas you can use to get your brand off the ground and into the heads of the people you want to bring in.

For starters, ask some questions. Show you really care about what people think. Occasionally inviting your diners to provide feedback might be a little scary, but you are able to tap into what your consumers are thinking and see where their minds are when they think about your establishment.

In this manner, you can find out ways to improve your operation and foster brand loyalty at the same time.

You can ask fun questions like:

  • What do you love about eating out?
  • What’s your favorite drink?
  • What charity should we sponsor?

You can also use Social Media to create a hub of information for your guests. Post news about your establishment, talk about specials and post photos of your new and tasty meals. You can work with a restaurant marketing agency like Promotable Media to get the best results.

People will eventually see it as a place to get information and continue to come back as a means of finding out what’s new.

Chatbots for Your Restaurant

Chatbots are becoming pretty mainstream when it comes to the industry. They offer answers to all the basic questions without being super intrusive to customers.

They are designed to interact with customers in a way that is both meaningful and helpful, and they can be integrated with a variety of interfaces like Facebook, Telegram or Slack.

Customer retention and loyalty are critical to the solvency of a business, especially ones that are based in hospitality and/or service.

Therefore, it is necessary that you exceed all expectations especially when you are talking about customer service. When it comes to ordering some items, making a reservation, or even asking about ingredients, it is nearly impossible to make every customer happy which can give a negative image to your restaurant’s brand.

But using a chatbot means customers don’t have to make a call to the establishment. They can simply talk to an AI bot which can be programmed to make reservations, answer basic questions, order food and then takes the payment for said food.

This frees up your staff to focus all their attention on the customers already inside your restaurant. Plus, chatbots never close and work around the clock.

Augmented Reality in Restaurants

Imagine if your customers were able to project an image of a meal you create using their smart device.

That burger, sandwich, cupcake or steak might look pretty appetizing and entice them to order.

That’s what’s currently happening at Magnolia Bakery in New York, where customers can check out the catering menu by projecting virtual images of the pastries offered via their mobile devices. It has proved to be very popular.

This tech is making its rounds, and soon you might see more than a few hungry customers staring at their devices, visualizing what they would like to eat.

Large corporations like Coca Cola and even regional chains like Bareburger in NYC have paired up with AI companies to bring a new experience to customers and get them interested in what’s offered.

Put the Power in Their Hands

Touchscreen tablet menus are a huge hit with young customers, especially those aged 24-35. One study by Accenture Loyalty found that over half of customers in that age bracket are more loyal to brands that were letting them create something that was unique and tailored to their individual needs.

Tablet menus are indeed great. You can make it very easy for customers to create and customize just what they want to eat with just a few easy taps and clicks.

And unlike printed menus, you can utilize an endless amount of space to make your words count and tell diners all they need to know.

Some technology even includes prompts that offer popular add-on products and upsells to customers for different menu items.

Tablet menus are designed to stay right at the table while your customer dines. When they want another app or desire another drink, all that has to be done is touching the “reorder” button instead of having to wait for a server to come by again.

Plus, this method is great if your establishment tends to be rather noisy or features live music.

Simplifying Payment Experience

One great way to engage guests is to make their payment experience a breeze. The vast majority of guests desire a payment experience that is smooth and lacks any sort of friction. But only a few of us have the tech to make it happen. What can we do to change this and in turn boost brand loyalty?

The vast majority of guests desire a payment experience that is smooth and lacks any sort of friction.

Your POS system is a big factor here. If you have upgraded to an mPOS, you are able to process card payments right at the table as well as NFC mobile or “contactless” methods of payment. By using a mobile POS, you can scan a diner’s smartphone and take their Apple Pay or Samsung Pay to settle the bill.

Having this great tech can also help you make the payment process go a lot faster. If a guest is ready to leave, they really hate waiting around to get their check and then wait for the server to come back with their credit or debit card.

Tablet menus are great because guests can simply pull up the bill, pay at the table, tip their server and leave on their own terms, which is a huge win.

Text Messages

We shall close this article regarding popular restaurant technologies that build brand loyalty by going back to the basics and talking about text messages.

Text messages are great for a variety of reasons. You can get customers to sign up for text alerts by offering them a free product for signing up. By sending them a coupon that gives them a free app, dessert or other coupons, you increase the chance they will come back.

The chain Texas Roadhouse, for instance, garnered over 60,000 subscribers to its mobile subscription list over a year thanks to its loyalty calls to actions, says Retail Dive.

In Closing

What do you think? What technologies will build brand loyalty? Email us your thoughts (info@longitudebranding.com) or ask us a question – we’d love to hear from you!

7 Ways to Study Your Restaurant’s Competition for Your Benefit

When considering competition, most business owners have a negative reaction. Your competitors are the bad guys who are intentionally trying to keep members of your target audience – your customers – from choosing you. When looking at the competition through that lens, it can be difficult to see how any positives could come from a competitor’s existence.

However, competition can be a positive for your business, from the right perspective. It is through competition that you can thrive, innovate and grow. Knowing who the competition is, what makes them stand out, and what people dislike about them is one of the best ways you can achieve a competitive advantage and begin to dominate the market.

Many restauranteurs believe their establishment already stands out from the competition. However, few do enough research to validate those feelings of superiority. By blindly assuming that there is nothing to improve, or that the only things to improve are those that are in response to customer complaints, they can lose out on the opportunity to take their place as one of the best restaurants in their city.

Trying to do what your competitors are doing but basically a little bit better is probably not going to be the winning strategy. The problem is finding what your competitors wouldn’t even consider doing. – Jamais Cascio

When researching your competition, you want to learn as much as you can. You need to know what they offer, how much they charge, what are a customer’s options for obtaining their food (i.e. delivery, take out, eat in), their marketing and branding strategies and tactics, any loyalty or perks they offer to customers, what their customers say they do well, and what kind of promotions they offer. Throughout the research process, you’ll want to keep track of any ideas you have, what your competitor’s strengths are, as well as what their weaknesses are.

Make a List of Your Competitors

The first step in studying your business’s competition is to figure out who they are. Start by making a list of restaurants near your location. You can also check online for restaurants that compete in the same areas as you. For example, if you are a diner serving American cuisine, you’ll want to look at any other restaurants that serve American cuisine, as well as any that provide a quick sit-down option.

You may not want to limit yourself to only your city. Many customers will travel nearby to high-quality restaurants.

Lastly, you can check the Better Business Bureau. Look for the top performing restaurants in your area, as well as new competitors who you may not even be aware of yet. By looking at the top performers and the latest restaurants, you can get a sense of what the newest trends are as well as what makes a restaurant thrive in your market.

Check out Social Media

Once you have your list, you can use the Internet to start your research and scope out the competition. Social media can be full of information. Look at each of their social media accounts and see how they promote themselves. You can also look at how many likes, followers, and how much interaction they have on their accounts.

This can be another way to rank your competition and see which the best are to emulate, especially if the Better Business Bureau does not provide much information. This step in the process may provide a lot of ideas for you to use to promote your own business. Be sure to keep track of those ideas so that you can implement them later.

Read the Reviews

In addition to social media, you can look for other online reviews. See what your local newspapers and magazines have written about your competitors. View review sites online such as Yelp. Make notes of both the positives and the negatives – each will be able to help you develop a competitive advantage.

Also, pay attention to how the competing restaurant reacts to reviews – especially from customers. Are they responsive to everyone? Do they come across as argumentative when receiving complaints? How can you use their examples to improve your own review responses?

Compare Marketing Materials

Online is not the only space where your competition advertises, though you should do a short audit of any digital properties like social media and websites that your competition has. Pick up local marketing materials such as newspapers, magazines and restaurant guides. See if you can find local flyers, coupon handouts, mailers, and other types of advertising. Looking at what your competition is doing well in restaurant advertising, as well as what could be improved, can help you shape a more effective campaign in your market.

Ask Your Customers

Talk to your loyal customers. Do not give them a long paper survey, but casually ask them where they go when they aren’t at your restaurant and what they like about other places. While this information is hard to quantify, it can be helpful.

Use this information to understand your own customers better. What attracts your customers to other restaurants? What do they like at other places that you could potentially utilize in your own business?

You can also uncover ways that your customers find out about other restaurants that you may not be aware of. Besides word-of-mouth, do they use apps or other forms of media? You can use that information to discover other places where you may want to advertise your restaurant in order to reach other customers who are similar to your most loyal ones.

Attend Local Food-Themed Events

Many cities offer food programs such as Taste of the City, or events focused on one particular type of cuisine. Attending these types of events can help you see, in real-time, what your competition is doing and what makes them stand out.

Again, you can ask your own customers for suggestions during the event. What do they enjoy the competition? What do they think you could do better? It can be hard to ask for this type of honest feedback, but if you can listen without taking the critique too personally, it can help your business grow exponentially.

Hire a Restaurant Consultant

Competitor analysis is time-consuming, and it can be difficult to be unbiased. Sometimes it can also be overwhelming to figure out what you should do, and how to prioritize those suggestions. Sometimes when comparing yourself to the competition, it can be too tempting to only focus on the places where your restaurant already excels.

In these types of situations, hiring a restaurant consultant may be helpful. A restaurant consultant will be able to perform a competitive analysis for you. They will help you understand the key differentiating factors that make your competitors stand out, and what you can emulate or even improve on. Restaurant consultants are also already familiar with the competition in your area. This means they will likely already have insight into where restaurants advertise and how they obtain customers. This insight may not be as easy for you to obtain, especially when you are already focused on running your own business.

Restaurant consultants can take their research and other insights to help make a plan. They will help you prioritize, and possibly even implement, the recommended changes. By developing a plan for you, you can more easily use the competition analysis to become one of the best restaurants in your area, without having to do as much of the research yourself.

Once you’ve studied your competition through different channels, or received insights from a restaurant consultant, you can use the different types of information to make improvements to your own restaurant.

Exceed the Positives

Take the things your competitors are doing well, and do not simply emulate them – excel (where possible). Do your competition’s customers appreciate that they can place a very custom order on a competitor’s website? You can build an ordering system on your website, and an app as well. Do customers love the fact that they get a free meal on their 10th visit through a punch card loyalty program? Maybe you can offer a free meal for every nine visits through a digital rewards program.

While it is not possible to exceed every positive you discovered for your competition, even choosing one or two can make a substantial difference.

Exploit the Negatives

Every business has areas where it can make improvements. Outperform your competition in the areas where they are weak. For example, if a competing restaurant has a lot of negative reviews about their employee’s attitudes and behavior, make sure you train your employees to be polite and positive. Offer training materials that teach your employees how to respond to negative feedback. Create policies for refunding money to customers and making mistakes right.

If customers complain about the wait times at your competition’s restaurants during the lunch rush, maybe you can simplify or streamline your own lunch menu so that you can become known as a quick (and delicious) option.

While there are downsides to customers having the option to choose restaurants that aren’t yours, you can utilize this competition to your advantage. If you pay close attention to what others are doing, you can use it to make your own restaurant the best it can be.

8 Ways That Brand Positioning Will Help You Grow Your Business

With the correct brand position, it’s your business driver, helping you to inform your messages about marketing, how your services are shaped and even how you structure your prices.

The success of your business is influenced by strong brand positioning. But many highly competitive companies have difficulty in positioning themselves and explaining why their business matters. It is difficult, but critical, to do this right. Your customers will not know whether to purchase from you or from your competitors if you fail in this.

In short, positioning is the means by which your brand is markedly distinguished from its competitors. It’s all about what you offer, the value and the position you hold in your intended audience’s mind. Defining a clear position allows you to check your perceptions of the market and to improve the position of your product and/or service upon that market.

How can your company benefit from brand positioning? Here are several different ways here:

1. Brand Positioning Differentiates You in the Market

The world doesn’t need more widgets. However, when your company or your products or services provide an unprecedented proposition, solve an unsatisfied need or deliver the desired experience, Brand Positioning will help you differentiate yourself from the crowd.

Brand positioning allows you to stake out a unique territory (e.g., an industry specialty or a highly specialized service offering) for your business where no competitor will dare to venture because they will be labeled as a “me – too” company, just following in your footsteps.

2. Brand Positioning Cuts Through the Noise

A clear brand position allows you to communicate and reach your target audience efficiently and effectively. We are bombarded every day at every corner with marketing and sales messages. Everyone is fighting for your attention. By speaking directly to the people you intend to attract, your Brand Positioning breaks through the clutter in the midst of all this noise. Your brand is seen and heard clearly instead of shouting to an empty room or to a crowd that doesn’t care about you.

Your Brand Positioning breaks through the clutter in the midst of all this noise.

3. Brand Positioning Helps You Become a Specialist

You will be forced to focus your services accordingly by laying claim to a particular feature or benefit through positioning. This, in turn, will make you perceive yourself as an expert in these services, which will increase your value to your prospects. This is especially important because “specialists” are growing twice as fast as companies that describe themselves as “generalists.”

Positioning helps to provide your business development team’s persuasive sales tools to nurture and close more sales. Unique brand positioning enhances the visibility of business and top – of – mind recall for prospects to help drown out the competition.

4. Brand Positioning Makes Choosing Your Business Easier

Consumers want decisions that are easy. To find the right one for them, they don’t want to screen 30 alternatives. They want to know who to trust and what to buy quickly and easily. Brand Positioning deliberately and subconsciously triggers an emotional response from your target audience. If in the shortest amount of time the right levers are pulled, you increase the likelihood that people will decide “yes.”

5. Brand Positioning Allows You to Compete on More Than Just Price Alone

Whether the mass market uses your brand or you offer a high-end luxury item, Brand Positioning will provide you clarity on your specific value. Your value is what you offer to customers, how it best meets their needs, and how insufficient the alternatives that competitors offer are. You have nothing to offer but ambiguity without Brand Positioning. No one values ambiguity (or buys it).

No one values ambiguity (or buys it).

6. Brand Positioning Justifies Your Pricing

Sometimes your brand still needs price justification even when your value is known. Brand Positioning is where you identify your brand and compare it to the competition and its specific offering, informing you that your price point is strategic and justified. Are you more expensive? Less expensive? Is it obvious why? Are consumers going to respond favorably?

Positioning your business against the competition will assist you in deciding what new services to offer and how to price them. Are you a boutique company at a higher price? Or a low-cost, no-frills business? Which new services support this positioning and pricing?

7. Brand Positioning Informs and Improves Your Design

You will have the insight to make more effective decisions throughout the creative process once you have developed the core message needed to promote your brand positioning. Clear positioning drives communication that is clear.

Visual design needs to build a compelling story that involves strong positioning. If you don’t know what your competition uses, how would you know which colors, fonts, or symbols to use? What if, for example, you didn’t know that color influences the taste of consumers for particular foods? It’s not much different than writing good copy, the difference being that you’re communicating and creating perceptions through images.

8. Brand Positioning Empowers Your Brand’s Story and Messaging

How will you be able to write quality copy without knowing your brand positioning? If you don’t understand how your brand is positioned in the marketplace and your customer’s mind, it will be very difficult to write anything meaningful about yourself. Communicating to an audience is almost impossible if you do not accurately understand the uniqueness of your brand or competition you face.

So asses your brand and ask yourself these questions: is your brand positioned to…

Compete with Confidence? A strong starting point helps you understand, recognize and embrace your meaningful difference to the people that matter to your growth. Look at your competitors to see if you need to change your positioning. How will you compete with the other brands that your audience is comparing you to? How can you best position your brand against any new competitors that may sprout up in the market?

Show people the value of your brand? Your positioning should make your brand more meaningful to those who already understand your brand. You need a deep understanding of your target markets in order to create meaning. Did their behaviors, ways of thinking, principles, needs, ambitions, fears, frustrations, joys, and fantasies change? Work to create simple and meaningful positioning that you can tailor to the target markets of your brand. Work to create simple and meaningful positioning that you can tailor to the target markets of your brand. Positioning that doesn’t fit your customer’s needs, and even foresees them, will struggle to remain relevant today.

Standout in the sea of competition? Your brand positioning should give your brand a coherent, recognizable and impactful picture. This picture distinguishes you from your rivals. What are your differences? Have they been changing with the market? What are your key differences as understood by your target audiences and internal teams? Is the differentiation steady and sustainable? Make sure you’re working to own the space that should separate you.

Make smarter and more informed decisions? The positioning of your brand should be a tactical and strategic compass. Consider whether your staff and leaders use your positioning to guide their strategic decisions to make sure of this. If your leaders do not make important decisions that match your positioning, it’s time to reset and align. Your brand will be more competitive and adaptable when you use positioning to make long and short-term decisions. So bear in mind that long-term successful positioning always leaves room for growth.

Brand positioning, done correctly, can make a marketing powerhouse for your business. It can help focus your services, marketing message, and prospects appeal to your business.

Brand positioning, done correctly, can make a marketing powerhouse for your business.

Highly focused positioning allows you to build a powerful and compelling message around specific areas of expertise that will appeal greatly to a targeted audience in need of your premium services. That’s why it’s so important to have a brand positioning strategy. It gives your prospects value, gives them something to be interested in, and ultimately will persuade them to purchase from you.

When it’s all said and done, Brand Positioning is the most crucial singular part of developing a brand by allowing you to define where you fit into the vast sea of your competition.

How Your Restaurant Can Attract and Retain Good Employees

Restaurants in America are struggling to find and retain good help. While the quality of hire is important, time to hire is also a factor for the fast-paced restaurant industry so fast casual, table service, and quick service restaurants can effectively serve their customers. There are several factors that restaurant owners must consider to attract and retain good employees, but the last one just might surprise you the most.

Finding good employees isn’t as hard as you might think. With today’s tight job market you must look at the obvious items such as pay, benefits, flexible work schedule, company culture, etc. However, the best employees you will find in the market are those who already work for your restaurant brand. Depending on your type of restaurant, there are some unique considerations to explore in retaining the talent you already have and then empowering them to help you fill additional staffing needs you may have to keep up with your brand’s growth.

The best employees you will find in the market are those who already work for your restaurant brand.

Fast-Casual Restaurants

Fast-casual restaurants are known for good quality fresh food, served fast. However, their environment still allows their customers to calmly sit down to enjoy their meals. Retaining employees means you must create a brand culture where employees want to stay. A brand that they can get behind and become a part of something great. When it comes to hiring and retaining the right kind of employees as a Fast Casual restaurant there are five top priorities for employers:

1. Pay – A fair wage is critical in this space. Most employees are younger and starting their own families. Pay needs to be enough to help them live. The earning potential with tips is somewhat limited in this restaurant environment. Pay your staff well.

2. Schedule – With starting a new family and many staff members breaking out on their own, flexible work schedules that work well with school and family is important.

3. Growth Opportunities – Grow your people. Fast-casual is a unique space within the restaurant industry. Invest in your people and treat them well so they don’t want or need to leave to find other growth opportunities. If they leave, be sure they leave well equipped to represent your training commitment and your investment in their professional development.

4. Career Path – This is one of the harder requirements needed to attract and retain great employees. Building a management mentor program or manager in training program along with several different levels of management could be a way to create a career path for your team. This allows staff to see what their options are within your company before the exit strategy ever comes to mind.

5. Cultural Alignment – This is all about brand. Be the kind of company that employees want to be part of.

Flexibility and culture are very important factors needed to attract and retain employees

It seems that in the fast-casual restaurant setting pay can affect your employee’s performance the most. However, flexibility and culture are very important factors needed to attract and retain employees. In fact, when it specifically comes to hiring quality staff employees who feel aligned with your brand’s culture are those who get excited about work every day. They are those employees who are most engaged. Never forget to keep an eye on your current staff and their career aspirations. Be keen on helping them get to where they want to go in their career and you will retain and attract better employees over time.

Table Service Restaurants

Table service restaurants offer more of a formal setting where patrons can pre-plan reservations for sit down meals. Most customers are higher end and statistically more educated. Attracting and retaining employees to this type of restaurant brand requires a bit more planning and employees often want these three things:

1. Earning potential – Most restaurant workers that come to a table service setting are in it for earning potential. They are after the more service-oriented setting that enables them to work hard for better tips from patrons.

2.Brand culture – Create a brand that delivers a clear message of quality. Brand culture is what drives spending for these higher-end establishments. Spending drives the opportunity for your employees.

3.Benefits (health, dental, vision, 401K, etc.) – These are more senior workers, usually, and they are aware of what the job market can offer them. Standing out with a great benefit or compensation package is a great way to attract and retain employees.

Quick Service Restaurants (QSR)

As the last type of restaurant employer, we come to quick service restaurants or QSRs. More often than not this is an area where the conflict between the generations can be found. More often than not these type of employers attract the younger employees. Millennials can often be found in these types of establishments as young managers. Attracting and retaining employees in this space seems to be done easier with strong multinational brands that present these top three values to their employees:

1. Growth Potential – QSR is a fast-paced beast all on its own. McDonald’s has been one of the most successful examples of innovating growth potential for its staff. Their mentoring programs and management training are some of the best in the world. McDonald’s managers are also paid well and recognized for going above and beyond in their individual stores.

2. Employee Recognition – You see it on every employee badge as you walk into most QSR spaces. If someone is new the employer calls it out. If someone is a trainer, they are considered the experts even though they might be young and obviously inexperienced.

3. Brand Culture – QSRs are nearly always large, global brands. They have a clear brand message and brand culture that people want to engage with. Those who seek out opportunities with these brands are doing it to be part of a big industry brand.

There are many things that drive higher employee retention as well as others that make it easier for your restaurant to hire. However, the one consistent tactic across the entire industry is connected to your brand. Brand culture, being something that others can’t live without helps you attract, hire, and retain the best employees in the space. This goes back to the idea that people don’t really care until they know you care.

Being something that others can’t live without helps you attract, hire, and retain the best employees in the space.

Team culture, benefits, pay etc can affect employee performance. Employees who perform at peak performance exhibit more self-confidence and they attract others like them. If your employees are weak, then what you will attract is more weakness. Drive and expect optimal performance from all employees at all times and always offer fair earnings for those who deserve it. The end result will be a restaurant brand that has good employees, increased quality of hire, and lower employee turnover.

The Do’s and Don’ts of Writing A Great Tagline for Your Restaurant

The restaurant landscape is rapidly changing with the pace of innovative technology. Five years ago, the concept of quick-service restaurants (QSR) was shifting away from just service at the counter. Today consumers can order online and pick up at the window. As a restaurant owner, this means that you have even less time than before to connect your brand and the consumer.

Tag lines can be effective to grab attention and resonate with the buyer. However, building an effective tag line that represents your brand is important and there are some clear do’s and don’ts to consider. This article will explore a few of these considerations.

What is a Tagline?

First, let’s define what a tag line is. A tag line or “tagline” is a short text which clarifies a thought, usually through a dramatic effect. A few examples might help.

  • Subway – “Eat Fresh”
  • Nike – “Just Do It”
  • Bounty – “The Quicker Picker Upper”
  • Apple – “Think Different”
  • KFC – “Finger-Lickin’ Good”
  • Dunkin’ Donuts – “America Runs on Dunkin”

Nike’s tag line is one example of a tag line that suggests dramatization. Just Do What? It? Anything you want. But you can’t do it unless you’ve got Nikes on. While this is interesting, the best tag lines in the QSR and restaurant space are those that are well crafted to help buyers instantly understand your offering.

Eat Fresh is a pretty clear tag line of how Subway and consumers might perceive Subway in the market place.

Restaurant Tagline “Don’ts”

First, according to Building a Story Brand (2019), talking about yourself shouldn’t be part of your tag line. Buyers don’t care about your restaurant the same way you might. What your customers really want to know is what your restaurant provides and why your brand is the better choice for a meal.

Second, Don’t make your tag line boring. This is where a creative brainstorming session with a small diverse group of people can make magic happen. The worst thing you can ever do to a restaurant tag line is to make it boring. You must capture the energy of your menu, your brand positioning, and your culture. Take a look at this mock example:

“The Tri-State Region’s Highest Rated Beef Sandwich for a Quick Lunch”
“Prime rib sandwiches made at your speed. Built to fill you up.”

In the first example, it’s all about business. You’ve seen this kind of tag line before probably. It’s just a statement of fact. Boring. Right? The second example has an emotional connection. You need speed and a good meal. By keeping the tag line message relevant to customer needs, they know how to get what they need.

The final “don’t” for this article is don’t use jargon and inside language. Consumer’s don’t know what QSRs are and they don’t care that you might be a QSR over a table service establishment. People can’t figure out tag lines that are complex and full of jargon.

People can’t figure out tag lines that are complex and full of jargon.

One last don’t in the world of tag lines. Don’t be offensive. AT&T used “Reach out and touch someone” just creepy if you think about it. How about the example from Dr. Pepper Ten? “It’s not for women” or the Old Spice example of “Smell Better Than Yourself”. Offensive tag lines just don’t work well. They can push consumers away. Just don’t do it.

Restaurant Tagline “Dos”

First, keep it simple.

Make sure a 5th grader can read and understand it. Don’t just think they will. Ask them. If people have to work hard to figure out what you want to say, they will ditch your brand altogether. Eat Fresh comes to mind again with short, clear words. You would expect and Subway you will eat and that the food will be fresh. Any 5th grader can read and understand this.

Second, short and simple is always best.

Keep your tag line short. Less than 5 words is ideal. According to Dr. A. L. Pradeep in the Buying Brain the subconscious mind is making the buying decision most of the time when it comes to food. You tag line must say a lot with almost no words. None of the tag lines in the examples above have more than 5 words. Third, try to capture your unique value point in your tag line. What is it the customer will gain? How will your restaurant make customers’ lives better? Why is your restaurant better than the ones across the street or next door?

Finally, building a tag line should never trump building a brand to support it.

Your brand is your culture. It is the experience employees, patrons, and the community will experience. The most important aspect of building your tag line should be your ability to connect it to your culture.

Concluding Remarks

Great tag lines serve as brand triggers. When you see, hear a tag line you should be able to associate the tag line with the brand. Can you label 5 or these brands just by the tag line alone? If so, they work.

  • The breakfast of champions
  • The happiest place on earth
  • Can you hear me now? Good
  • Melts in your mouth, not in your hands
  • I’m loving It
  • Imagination at work
  • What’s in your wallet?

You probably got at least 5 of these tag lines right. Each of these tag lines serves a single purpose. They trigger your subconscious mind to connect the words to a brand. Tag lines are important in every industry but really important for restaurants to better define your brand and at most times the menu.

To summarize consider writing out everything you’ve heard about your restaurant from others along with what you think about it. By now you should have three or four good paragraphs. Spend the time here to lay a foundation to help you design your restaurant’s tag line. If you don’t have much keep going. Dig deep.

Now for the fun part. Make ten copies and distribute them to 10 people. Have them read what you wrote and circle only five words that jumped out at them. Then ask them to make a quick note as to what that specific word meant to them. After this approach, you will end up with a clear message that resonates with people you want to serve. If you serve prime rib sandwiches at lunch, you might get something creative like Prime Sandwiches, Prime Time.

25+ Restaurant Branding and Logo Design Inspirations

Fast Food Restaurant Branding

Fast food restaurants are primarily focused on the speed of the service. These operations can range anywhere from small scale street food carts to massive multi-billion-dollar corporations such as McDonald’s or Taco Bell. Food isn’t ordered from the table, but rather a front counter. After ordering, diners will typically carry their own food to their table, and dispose of their own waste after eating. Drive through and take-out options may also be available. Fast food restaurants are also known as Quick Service Restaurants (QSRs).

fast food restaurant branding by Amr Ashraf

by Amr Ashraf


fast food restaurant branding

by Longitude°

by Rico John Jambaro

fast food restaurant branding

by Insigniada

by Arpit Dawar

by Melissa Cong-Huyen

by Ben Harman

Fast-Casual Restaurant Branding

Fast-casual restaurants are usually chain restaurants, like Qdoba or Panera Bread. In contrast to fast food restaurants, food is often prepared at the restaurant instead of offsite. Fast-casual restaurants don’t typically offer full table service, however many do provide non-disposable cutlery and plates. The prices of food tend to be higher, and also the quality of the food is better than conventional fast food restaurants, but sometimes is lower than a casual dining experience.

by Roden Dushi

fast casual restaurant branding by Longitude

by Longitude

fast casual restaurant branding by Longitude

by Longitude°

by Honedon

by Lucas Jubb

Casual Dining Restaurant Branding

A restaurant that serves moderately-priced food with a casual atmosphere is often referred to as a “casual dining restaurant.” Aside from buffet restaurants, these restaurants will typically provide table service as well. Examples of chain restaurants that would fall into this category would be TGI Fridays or Applebee’s. Casual dining restaurants will usually have a full bar and a separate bar staff as well as a full beer menu and limited selection of wines.

by Martin David

casual dining restaurant branding

by Longitude°

casual dining restaurant branding

by Longitude°

by Brad Lockhart

by Ron Gibbons

Premium Casual Restaurant Branding

Originating from Western Canada, premium casual restaurants include chains like Earl’s, JOEY, or Cactus Club Cafe. These types of restaurants are often considered as an upscale fast-casual restaurant. LIke casual dining, they will often have a dining room and lounge area with multiple screens. These types of restaurants are typically found in shopping districts or downtown areas and will attract young professionals to their urban atmosphere. Premium casual restaurants have a wide variety of menu options including pasta, pizza, seafood, burgers, steaks, and Asian foods.

by Tad Carpenter

by Nathan Riley


by peter molnaar

by Steve Wolf

by Josh Warren

by Longitude°

Fine Dining Restaurant Branding

Fine dining restaurants have specific, dedicated meal courses, and provide full-service to guests. The design of these restaurants will feature high-quality materials, and will often have particular rules for dining that visitors are expected to follow – sometimes this includes a dress code.

by 𝚃𝚛𝚊𝚌𝚝𝚘𝚛𝚋𝚎𝚊𝚖

by Aaron Bloom

by Mike Ryan

by Ian Ruisard

by Aaron Johnson

9 Restaurant Trends to Be Ready for in 2019

Restaurateurs are looking forward to the upcoming release of “What’s Hot Culinary Forecast 2019” from the National Restaurant Association (NRA). The research is a detailed report from the annual survey of the American Culinary Federation membership. The survey is intended as an attempt to guide top menu trends each year. However, when it comes to the holistic restaurant strategy, there are many other things restauranteurs should also be watching for in 2019. This article will briefly explore 9 restaurant trends expected to be in play for the upcoming year.

The trends highlighted in this article are developments which were started this year. They provide a general direction which consumers are headed with their purchasing decisions. While there are many important trends that are top of mind for the industry year after year, such as food safety and waste reduction, the trends in this article are related to what consumers expect in their restaurant experience.

1. Fast Casual

Fast-casual dining is most commonly found in the United States. Such services do not offer table service and are found to be moderately priced right between fine dining and fast food. Fast-casual is on the rise because the food at these types of establishments is typically a higher quality than fast food with less frozen or processed ingredients. Consumers perceive such restaurants as a healthier option for their families when they are choosing to eat out.

2. Order Ahead – Quick Service Restaurant

According to the NRA’s research (2018), a quarter of consumers say that technology plays a role in selecting a restaurant. In addition, technology is a core factor in the order ahead or Quick Service Restaurant (QSR) setting. Consumers are continuing with the trend of turning to their mobile devices on the go. The order ahead technology has been well adopted by companies like Starbucks, Dominos, Dunkin Brands, and many others. While the adoption of ordering ahead is popular to consumers, it comes with challenges for the restaurant. Considerations for restaurants according to the QSR magazine (2018) are issues with the payment experience and vulnerability to fraud. Quick service restaurants who are turning to e-commerce must consider their payment strategies and fraud protection to avoid losses.

3. Kiosk Ordering & Restaurant Tech

Kiosk ordering is another play from the advancing technology in the restaurant space. While the idea of kiosk ordering is similar to order ahead apps mentioned above, actual physical kiosks are proving to be a value-add to restaurants into 2019. McDonald’s has been one of the early adopters of this kiosk strategy. According to their CEO in an interview on CNBC earlier this year, Steve Easterbrook told CNBC that “if people want to dwell, have a little bit more time, they can go to a self-order kiosk, they can browse through the menu…and perhaps customize the food to their liking.” Kiosk ordering has become a natural way for consumers to get what they want through a computer interface they use every day.

Even limited and full-service restaurants are integrating the kiosk experience into their operations with handheld tablet menus. These tablets tap into another key 2019 restaurant technology trend: self-payment.

In fact, a recent survey by TSYS found that 79% of today’s customers want restaurants to offer tableside payment because of the convenience factor and extra layer of financial data security (the customer’s credit card never leaves the table).

(For more ideas regarding upcoming restaurant tech trends for 2019 check out this webinar with Buzztime and Seven Rooms)

4. Alternative Foods

Food swapping or alternative food ingredient options will be an ongoing trend into 2019. Consumers are interested more than ever in their health and weight. As a result of weight loss marketing of programs like that of Paleo, Keto diets and others, consumers are switching foods on the menu. For example, they might ask for a lettuce wrapped sandwich rather than the bun or fresh zucchini noodles rather than pasta. Adopting the alternative food mindset allows restaurant brands to attract consumers who want the food the way they want to eat it.

5. Vegan Movement

It is not surprising that the vegetarian and vegan movement continues as a 2019 trend. The movement is growing and not going away anytime soon. With the continued focus on health, climate, and animal welfare this movement has traction. As the result of how these consumers work, restaurants should have a couple of options on their menu for vegans; however, truly passionate vegans and vegetarians tend to flock to restaurants that cater to their choices in food as a lifestyle commitment. If you try to offer vegan options as well as mainstream menu items, you’ll probably find little success in attracting the vegan audience.

6. Simple Foods

Restaurants should have menu options that clearly offer simple ingredients. Simple menus that are easy to understand and ingredients that are not too complex can attract consumers. While the meal might not really be a healthier option than your current menu description, it is perceived better if the ingredients are common names and easy to obtain outside of your restaurant. This trend is more of a marketing and positioning trend than one of the actual changes in the food you offer.

7. On-site Farming

On-site farming is becoming more and more common. As such, it made it to this 2019 restaurant trends list. However, most on-site farming restaurants are only offering garden produce in their restaurants. On-site farming can be an effective strategy for vegan and vegetarian establishments who offer fine dining. Where all of the ingredients are readily available, and consumers can see how they are treated, a premium price can be achieved to match the added expense. Again, a strategy for emphasis on quality selection.

8. Farm to Table

Farm to table is somewhat similar to the trend of on-site farming above; however, it includes dairy and proteins such as red meats, fish, and poultry as farms are off-site. Farm to table is a trend common in urban environments where the farms are not too far away from town. This strategy is an effective marketing strategy to attract consumers who care about quality and fresh ingredients. The reality is that all consumers really want the freshest and best food available at a fair price. Making sure your products are never frozen gives the consumer a peace of mind that their meal will be of the highest quality.

9. Wood Heat

Wood heat isn’t really much more than an alternative heat source. However, this trend is one that we are seeing more and more of. It started out in the United States with brick ovens being used by many pizza parlors. Wood heat is a heat source that takes time and work to create. As the result, consumers perceive this effort and translate it into quality. Wood heat can often also enhance the taste of the food being cooked from the smoke generated during the cooking process. While wood heat is a likely trend in 2019, it isn’t one that every restaurant in the country can adopt.

Trends are a challenge to predict as they can change rapidly due to the influence of new technology or techniques. However, these trends are the general direction consumers are guiding restaurants today and into 2019. It is clear that consumers are seeking restaurants that offer options that are generally easy to order, healthy, and fresh. Be sure your restaurant’s core message and branding are aligned to deliver on any of these three categories. The most important strategy; however, is to deliver the restaurant experience that your specific consumers want.

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